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Oct 122012
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Vampire bats don’t actually suck your blood. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) they  ”peel  back a small sliver of skin on their prey and use their long tongues to lap up the blood.” And they prey on livestock or wildlife, not humans.

I feel so much better!

The Vampire bat ranges from Mexico into South America.

The vampire bat’s taste for blood, though, is unique among bats. Its cousin bats are not nearly so spooky. Several are vegetarians, like the fruit bat, and others consume insects and bugs.

These bats play a huge role in the environment as pollinators and pest eaters.

But like so many other mammals, bats are threatened by encroachment on their habitat and loss of food sources caused by climate change and other factors.

Several types of bats face an immediate crisis. They are battling the mysterious White-nose syndrome, which has devastated populations in the Northeast U.S. and is spreading to the South and West.  This fungal disease, which appeared out of nowhere a few years ago, has been blamed for the loss of  nearly 6 million bats in North America, according to Austin-based Bat Conservation International (BCI). The illness causes the bats to awaken during their winter hibernation and leave their caves, freezing to death.

Bats affected by White-nose syndrome include Brown bats, the recovering Indiana bat and the endangered gray bat.

A vampire bat plush toy (safe for kids, really) offered by WWF.

Here are some ways you can support bats this Halloween, or anytime:

1 — Build or install a bat house in your backyard. BCl offers instructions. and information on why providing refuge for bats can help your immediate environment.

2 — Send a batty online greeting card for Halloween and many other occasions, also through Bat Conservation International.

3 — Donate to WWF on behalf of bats and receive a bat cuddly in return.

(Worried about bats and rabies? The BCI offers some reassuring information.)


Jun 212012
 

By B.C. Riley
Green Right Now

This rare, critically endangered felid is the world’s most threatened cat. Only about 100 are left, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their ideal habitat is open grassland for hunting, mixed with shrubs and maquis thicket. However, habitat loss has forced them into more mountainous areas. Roaming mainly throughout Spain and possibly Portugal, the Lynx pardinus is a fearless, solitary hunter that wildlife conservationists say must be protected.

Iberian Lynxes have jaguar-like spots. (Photo: World Wildlife Fund)

Unlike most predators, the Iberian Lynx relies almost entirely upon one animal for food: rabbits. Unfortunately, a rapid decline in rabbit populations due to the RHD disease and over hunting has caused the lynx to search for other prey. Now dwelling in unfamiliar habitat, they must adapt to a new way of living to survive.

In the 1970s, Iberian Lynx hunting was banned, but illegal hunting still occurs today. Increasing roads and infrastructure are also damaging critical shrub lands, not to mention causing many Iberian Lynxes to be run over by cars.

Facts about Iberian Lynxes:

  • Iberian Lynxes are skilled at climbing trees.
  •  Their coats have jaguar-like spots with grayish fur, distinguishing it from other lynxes.
  • Iberian Lynxes are half the size of the Eurasian Lynx, weighing an average of only 25 lbs.
  •  They are nocturnal, except for in winter when they are active during the day.
  • The only time they live together is when the mothers care for their young, otherwise they are solitary.

Spain and Portugal have not only made it illegal to hunt Iberian Lynxes, but have strategized a way to save this beautiful animal. Spain has already begun breeding them in captivity, and the National Action Plan in Portugal has started a program to re-introduce them into the wild. To find out more about Iberian Lynxes, go to their webpage at World Wildlife Fund. The WWF has been working for more than a decade with Spain to save the Iberian Lynx.

Copyright © 2012 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network


May 152012
 

Photograph from space showing a view of the sun shining on Earth. (Photo: NASA)


By Lisa Schlein
VOA

GENEVA – The World Wildlife Fund warns the world is consuming more of the Earth’s resources than the planet can bear. WWF is launching its Living Planet Report just five weeks before nations gather at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to press political leaders into action to protect the earth for future generations.

The World Wildlife Fund calls the planet sick and says it has the statistics to prove that. WWF says its Living Planet index finds biodiversity has decreased globally by nearly 30 percent since 1970 and, in the hardest hit tropics, by 60 percent.

The report also measures the ecological footprint of nations; that is the accumulative pressure they put on the planet. It gauges the total amount of land and resources used, including the amount of carbon emissions and compares this with how much land and sea is available.

WWF Director-General Jim Leape says there has been a huge increase and unsustainable demand for natural resources since 1961. “So, at this point, we are using 50 percent more resources each year than the Earth can replenish. … We are living as if we had one-and-one-half planets to support us. … So, while we are now 50 percent over the earth’s capacity to support us, by 2030 we would need two planets to support the way we are living – [and] by 2050, almost three planets. So, we are on a track that is clearly by any measure unsustainable,” he said.

The report considers the impact of human population growth and over-consumption as critical driving forces behind environmental pressure.

WWF finds wealthy countries on average consume five times more natural resources than do poor countries. This is borne out by the top 10 countries with the biggest ecological footprint per person. They include three oil-producing countries in the Middle East, four European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia.

The Living Planet Index notes declines in biodiversity since 1970 have been fastest in lower-income countries. It says this demonstrates how the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthier countries.

Jim Leape says time is running out for the planet, but it has not yet run out, and there are many actions nations and individuals can take to reverse biodiversity decline. He says some ecosystems must be protected, whether in the water or on land. He says some land must be put aside to maintain the health of the larger system.

“It is also important that we are restoring native ecosystems and managing them in a way that sustains the basic integrity of those systems. So you will see this in the report: If countries step up and end net deforestation by 2020 – and many countries have already pledged to do this – then you could save 180 million hectares of forest by 2050, compared to business as usual,” he said.

The environmentalists also are urging nations to become more energy-efficient. They say nations should develop renewable energy, in particular wind and solar. They say this can make nations fuel independent, save them money and slow down climate change by lowering carbon dioxide emissions. They are calling for better water management and a stop to over-fishing.

WWF says individuals can do a lot to preserve the world’s dwindling resources by becoming smarter consumers. It says they can choose to walk rather than drive, they can buy food produced closer to home than that which is transported long distances. It says people can use the power of the ballot box to vote in politicians who are environmentally friendly and oust those who are not.


Dec 142011
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Environmental groups make it easy this time of year to send someone on your list a gift that benefits wildlife.

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND

People who donate $250 to help the world's 3,200 wild tigers receive a big plush thank you from WWF.

As it has for years, the World Wildlife Fund offers animal cuddlies and “adoption” certificates to those who donate $25, $50 or $100, making it easy for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to symbolically adopt an endangered species as part of a gift package to a child, or to anyone who’s fond of cheetahs, tigers, polar bears, monarch butterflies, chimpanzees, bonobos or dozens of other imperiled species.

Sadly, it’s a long list.

WWF also asks potential donors to consider giving to specific programs, such as the one they operate in South Africa where they’re trying to save some of the last rhinos in the world, following the extinction of the Western Black Rhino and the Java Rhino. You can read more here about how conservationists have relocated some rhinos to protect them from poachers who kill them just for their horns, which are falsely believed to have medicinal qualities.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND

EDF helps save sea turtles by providing fishing nets with escape hatches.

The Environmental Defense Fund also runs a fundraiser, called Presents for the Planet, that’s focused on saving endangered animals and critical habitats.

Donors designate a program/species they’d like to support and send in a cash contribution. EDF forwards notice of their gift to the gift recipient. There are no stuffed animal rewards, but the group touts its program as eco-friendly because there’s also no paperwork involved. It’s all handled by email, maximizing the donation.

EDF’s programs have taken aim at several specific problems. One program is mitigating the loss of sea turtles to fishing nets, where the swimming turtles often become ensnared and drown. EDF provides fishing crews with turtle-safe nets that prevent such devastating collateral damage, allowing turtles to escape as the net is pulled through the water.

EDF also offers a tropical forest conservation plan for unabashed tree huggers through its work with Brazil to save rainforest, a project that protects countless animals and helps slow climate change.

NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION

Walrus face diminishing ice and marine food sources.

The National Wildlife Federation also has gone paperless, putting its gift catalog online. Like WWF, NWF has set up a wide range of animal adoptions, but with more focus on North America.

There may not be anywhere else you can “adopt” a walrus for $20, $50, $75 or $100. Walrus, like so many animals, are on thin ice these days, with their habitat shrinking and climate change threatening their internal migration clock as well.

Other animals featured include North American icons, like wild bison, jaquars, American eagles, barn owls and caribou. Caribou, another highly adapted species, face the twin threats of warming permafrost and vanishing habitat as boreal forest is lost to logging and energy exploration.

Without conservation efforts, we could soon face a world in which reindeer turn up only in Christmas tales.


Feb 042011
 

From Green Right Now Reports

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and sustainable energy consultancy Ecofys released a report Thursday that should gladden green hearts across the globe. It shows that the world could be fueled by clean renewable power by 2050. It’s possible, according to the analysis by The Netherlands-based Ecofys, and while this goal confronts huge technological challenges, it also presents economic opportunities.

One striking thing about the Ecofys analysis, which was two years in the making, is that it puts the lie to the claim of fossil fuel companies that the world must, by necessity, depend upon oil and coal for the rest of this century because energy demand is growing. Even as fossil fuels are depleted they will still be much in demand to round out our ever-growing power needs, this argument goes.

But a graphic from the The Energy Report by Ecofys shows that fossil fuels don’t have to be part of the picture at the mid-century mark. Instead, with a full range of renewables in place, as well as energy efficiencies, that top line of energy use does not have to move ever upward. In the Ecofys model energy demand peaks around 2020, and then levels off and declines somewhat, despite the rising human population.

By adding a range of renewable energy sources, and keeping energy use in check, the world can achieve a clean energy future, according to the Ecofys report.

(In the graphic, the gray portions represent non renewable fuels, nuclear, coal, natural gas and oil. A range of renewables are represented by the green and blue lines, which rise up over the next four decades to fufill demand. The renewables include wind, solar, wave, geothermal, biofuels, hydropower and a few more.)

A statement by Ecofys notes that switching to renewable energy will help equalize living conditions across the planet and produce longterm benefits.

“That does not mean it will be easy,” says Ecofys CEO Manon Janssen. “Present policies and measures are definitely not sufficient. But we must realise that we need to act and that acting now will secure benefits later. We believe that businesses have a major role to play in making it happen.”

Read more: The Energy Report jointly produced by WWF and Ecofys.

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Apr 132010
 
Families turn out for a recycling event in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Frisco Green Living)

Families turn out for a recycling event in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Frisco Green Living)

By Harriet Blake
Green Right Now

Most everyone is familiar with IKEA, home of affordable, assemble-it-yourself furnishings. But did you know that the company has a code of conduct known as the IWAY?

The familiar blue-and-yellow stores began in Sweden in 1943. As USA Corporate spokeperson Mona Liss likes to say, they “own the whole pipeline,” meaning IKEA controls everything from start to finish, from sourcing to the end product.

“We make sure that everyone follows the IWAY code of conduct,” she says. This means being careful about what chemicals are used; making sure the wood is certified; and that the workers are properly treated. The IWAY code began in 2000 and covers among other things the environment, responsible forestry management, working conditions and the prevention of child labor.

Liss points out that IKEA has been involved in the environmental movement since the early ’90s. “IKEA is a humble company,” she says. “We haven’t been beating our chests, but our sustainability practices have been in place for a long time. Sustainability has always been ingrained in how we work.”

Ever wonder how and why IKEA has such reasonable prices for its furniture?

One answer is “flat packing,” says Liss. Flat packing is a great way to transport furniture, she says. It involves shipping the different parts of a piece of furniture along with its screws and bolts. “Take the Billy bookcase, for example, says Liss. “We can ship 12 Billy bookcases in pieces and boxed for the same price as one assembled Billy bookcase. By shipping in pieces, you can ship more efficiently and use less CO2 in the process. The customer saves money on the item, and the company lessens its carbon footprint.”

On Earth Day, says Liss, “We will for the first time be communicating our ‘Never Ending List’ to the customer.” The list, which cab be found on IKEA’s website but is not usually promoted, features company practices that make IKEA sustainable.

Besides flat-packing and the IWAY code of conduct, the list includes joining forces with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to increase the availability of FSC certified wood and to address the problem of illegal logging; moving towards having its buildings supplied with 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and heating; printing the colorful IKEA catalog on totally chlorine-free paper; featuring at least one organic dish on all IKEA restaurant menus; and encouraging customers in some countries not to use their car by offering free shuttle buses. In Switzerland, some IKEA stores give discounts for home deliveries to customers who use public transit.

“The reason we call it our ‘Never Ending List,’ is because sustainability has no end point,” says Liss.

“One of our earliest initiatives was to phase out plastic bags,” says Liss, noting that IKEA was one of the first retailer to do so. “We reached out to the customer in 2007, announcing that we were beginning the phase-out. We gave them a six-month window. Then we began the phase out in 2008, selling our blue IKEA bags for 59 cents. If customers wanted plastic, we charged them 5 cents which we then gave to American Forests (a nonprofit conservation group).”

The program reduced plastic bag consumption by 92 percent, says Liss.

Another green initiative that IKEA has undertaken is the “I’m a Tree Hugger” program. The company’s trademark is wood furniture. Besides using wood that comes from certified forests, IKEA also plants trees to supplement the trees that are cut down to make their products. “We have planted well over a million trees,” says Liss.

Many of IKEA’s products are environmentally friendly, too. The Norden birch table makes use of the knotty top part of the tree trunk, which previously had been burned as firewood. The Klippan sofa, which is very bulky, has been made into a knockdown piece in which the armrests and back slip into the seating base, making it easier to transport and save on carbon emissions. The Lack side table and the Besta storage system are made with a wood-based frame filled with recycled, honeycombed paper – using less raw material than particleboard. Dvala bed linen is made with cotton that is grown sustainably, using less water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And the Mandal bed frame with storage boxes is made from birch and pine, both renewable raw materials.

In addition to IKEA’s sustainability efforts, the company is involved in several social initiatives such as UNICEF and Save the Children. From Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, all IKEA stores sponsor an annual soft toy (stuffed animal) campaign. IKEA donates one euro for each toy sold to UNICEF and Save the Children projects in more than 25 developing countries including Albania, Bangladesh, Russia, Vietnam, the Ivory Coast, Uganda and China.

On a local level, IKEA often partners with its home community on environmental issues. In Frisco, Texas, IKEA has joined with the city for the fifth year to sponsor “Clean It and Green It,” as well as “Chunk Your Junk” programs.

“Clean It and Green It is a citywide clean up,” says the Frisco store’s public relations manager, April Berg. “Anyone can participate.”

“Clean It and Green It is a citywide clean up,” says the Frisco store’s public relations manager, April Berg.
“Anyone can participate by contacting the City of Frisco’s Environmental Services division. Individuals and families can register the day of the event, pre-register online at <a href=”http://www.myvolunteerpage.com” target=”_blank”>myvolunteerpage.com</a> or contact volunteer coordinator <a href=”mailto: kdaniel@friscotexas.gov”>Kris Daniel by email</a> or at 972-292-5078,” she says.
Home Owners Associations, schools, churches and community groups also are encouraged to pre-register and hold “Clean It and Green It” events in their own neighborhoods. They pick up litter and debris in the areas of which they are assigned.
After the volunteers fan out throughout Frisco collecting trash, they then return to the store for a barbecue and green prizes. Frisco Mayor Maher Maso also makes an appearance.
The “Chunk Your Junk” program is held at the Frisco IKEA parking lot at the same time. Frisco residents can bring items for drop off or disposal. They must bring a copy of their current water bill for proof of residency. Residents also may bring their hazardous waste products and other items for recycling.

All IKEA stores have drop-off sites where customers can drop off recycling items from home such as light bulbs, paper and plastic. And all stores have recycling canisters throughout the store for shoppers.

Every IKEA store has a recycling center for customers for disposal of cardboard, light bulbs, glass, plastic and paper. The service is strictly for consumer usage, not businesses, says Berg. This type of recycling is a requirement for all stores.

All food waste from the Frisco IKEA restaurant and bistro, says Berg, are processed and either composted or converted to biodiesel fuel. Not all food items are locally produced, says Berg, since much of the menu is Swedish. “But all our factories do abide by green standards,” she says.

Caring for the environment in their humble and modest way may be a reflection of IKEA’s Swedish roots, but company spokesperson Mona Liss believes these also may be traits that other countries, including the U.S., aspire to as well.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network


Apr 012010
 
President Obama's decision to open up off-shore drilling drew mixed reaction.

President Obama's decision to open up off-shore drilling drew mixed reaction.

From Green Right Now Reports

Environmental groups were taken aback by President Obama’s announcement this week that the U.S. would open vast areas along the Eastern Seaboard, in the Gulf of Mexico and selected areas of the Alaskan Arctic to off-shore oil and gas leasing. Reaction ranged from pure outrage to a more measured response from big groups that clearly want to maintain good relations with a White House that has pitched some wins their way.

The World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, for instance, issued straightforward statements saying they were not happy with the new drilling, but pleased with restrictions in some areas and glad that the administration is pursuing oil conservation measures like new higher mileage and stricter emissions standards for cars.

The best line:

“Short of sending Sarah Palin back to Alaska to personally club polar bear cubs to death, the Obama administration could not have come up with a more efficient extinction plan for the polar bear,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity.

We thought it best you see the official responses  in full so we’re reprinted the various statements here:

From Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity:

“Today’s announcement is unfortunately all too typical of what we have seen so far from President Obama – promises of change, a year of ‘deliberation,’ and ultimately, adoption of flawed and outdated Bush policies as his own. Rather than bring about the change we need, this plan will further our national addiction to oil and contribute to global warming, while at the same time directly despoiling the habitat of polar bears, endangered whales, and other imperiled wildlife.

“Oil development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, home to all of America’s polar bears, is strongly opposed by conservation groups as no technologies exist to clean up oil spills in icy waters. Oil development in the Beaufort Sea would likely also be visible from the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Today’s plan would allow existing leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas to move forward while the remainder of these areas would be subject to additional leasing following further environmental studies.   The only bright spot in today’s announcement was that a lease sale proposed in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, within critical habitat for the North Pacific right whale, the world’s most endangered whale, would be cancelled. However, important habitat for the similarly endangered North Atlantic right whale would be opened in its stead.

“The Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations filed a court challenge to the 2007-2012 offshore oil leasing plan issued by the Bush administration. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set aside that plan for failing to adequately assess the environmental impacts of opening up areas off Alaska to drilling. Today’s announcement comes partially in response to that court ruling.    Earlier this year, Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar approved Shell’s plans to drill this summer on existing leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi. Litigation against that plan is ongoing.

“Short of sending Sarah Palin back to Alaska to personally club polar bear cubs to death, the Obama administration could not have come up with a more efficient extinction plan for the polar bear.”

NRDC Responds to President Obama’s Energy Announcements

Statement by Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“We need comprehensive solutions for America’s clean energy future — and more offshore drilling in our oceans does not fit in that picture. Offshore drilling carries significant environmental risks without truly increasing our energy independence. There are many areas that are just too sensitive for offshore drilling, which threatens our oceans, sea life and coastal communities; including economic interests in these areas. America has better solutions than to drill in our pristine waters — which needs more research and investigation — and we should be pursuing these options.

“On the other hand, the new vehicle standards are a giant step forward on our country’s journey towards a cleaner and more secure future. These standards will help consumers and businesses — while cutting carbon pollution to protect the environment. The new fleet of hybrid vehicles announced today will also help cut our oil dependence and cut pollution. And we are encouraged by the administration’s support for investments in carbon capture and storage and in advanced biofuels.

“In order to fully achieve a clean energy future, we need the administration and Congress to enact truly comprehensive energy and climate policies that will cut our dependence on oil, limit carbon pollution and create jobs. We now look to the Senate to advance comprehensive legislation — that is being crafted by Senators Kerry, Graham, Lieberman and others — to make our country stronger, safer and more secure.”

Statement from World Wildlife Fund’s Vice President for Arctic and Marine Policy Bill Eichbaum:

“Today’s decision accurately reflects the extraordinary value of Bristol Bay to the American people.  It is not only one of America’s great natural treasures; it also is the engine that drives the Bering Sea fishery, the single largest source of seafood in the United States that generates nearly $2 billion per year for Alaska’s economy.  The Administration now needs to safeguard this resource permanently.

“WWF is also pleased that additional planned lease sales will not go forward in America’s broader Arctic waters, namely the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, under the current 2007-2012 leasing program.  We remain concerned, however, that exploratory drilling in these sensitive places will be allowed to continue.  It is our sincere hope that Secretary Salazar will follow the science that clearly outlines the enormous risks we face if these areas are exploited before important environmental safeguards are put in place.

“The hard lessons of the Exxon Valdez oil spill still haunt us. And, as we saw with the recent catastrophe in Australia’s Timor Sea, even the latest advances in technology cannot prevent a major spill from happening or get it cleaned up quickly enough to prevent a natural disaster.

“The dramatic consequences of climate change have made the Arctic increasingly fragile to other threats.  It is critical that the Senate pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year and, while such action may require a compromise on offshore drilling, we cannot further compromise the Arctic ecosystems that we depend on for jobs, seafood and our natural heritage.”

Statement of  Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:

“These standards are a grand slam: billions of dollars in consumer savings at the pump, a huge reduction in oil use, significant cuts in pollution, and they will help a more sustainable domestic auto industry thrive. Sierra Club pushed hard to pass the California law that set the stage for these standards, our members pushed for the Calfornia standards to be adopted in more than a dozen other states across the country, and we defended them all the way to the Supreme Court. The ambitious standards being finalized today were made possible by these years of hard work and we are delighted to see them become the law of the land.

“Today’s new national standards are the result of state leadership and the leadership of President Obama and his cabinet, including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Driving vehicle standards forward to 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016 is a result of President Obama’s work to bring together automakers, state leaders, environmentalists, and labor unions to secure a win for the nation.

“The new tailpipe standards, promulgated under the Clean Air Act, demonstrate the Act’s power to spur innovation, fuel economic growth, protect our air, make America more energy independent, and fight global warming. Instead of using this and other important tools in the Clean Air Act to accelerate our transition to a clean energy future, some in Congress want to slam on the brakes and actually shift the country into reverse by gutting the Clean Air Act. We cannot allow this happen. It would be bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and bad for America. The only people it would be good for are Big Oil, big polluters, and America’s enemies overseas who continue to profit from our dangerous dependence on oil.”

Statement of Environmental Defense Fund’s National Climate Campaign Director Steve Cochran:

“Without comprehensive climate and energy legislation, the failed, narrow energy policies of the past will continue. We believe the President’s announcement demonstrates his continued commitment to work towards the bi-partisan majority that will be necessary to pass climate legislation in the Senate.

“The President has put forward his plans on offshore drilling after hearing from key Senators that it’s a necessary step to succeed in passing climate and energy legislation in the Senate.

“Now it’s time for the supporters of new drilling and an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy to step forward and support comprehensive legislation, including a limit on carbon pollution. And the President must provide the leadership and drive to make that happen.

“From an environmental prospective, we believe any exploration and drilling must be carried out with effective environmental safeguards, including protection of key coastal and ocean habitats. Explicit funding for repair of the damage caused by historic energy extraction and transportation infrastructure must be addressed as well.”


Mar 292010
 
Empire State Building in New York with the lights switched off in support of Earth Hour 2010.  (Photo: © WWF / Rob Johnson)

Empire State Building in New York with the lights switched off in support of Earth Hour 2010. (Photo: © WWF / Rob Johnson)

From Green Right Now Reports

World Wildlife Fund said its Earth Hour event Saturday drew  hundreds of millions of people around the world who turned out their lights for one hour in support of action on climate change. The organization said the event was the largest public demonstration in history as individuals, businesses and government officials in 4,000 cities across 125 countries participated in Earth Hour.

In the United States, Earth Hour was observed in all 50 states and the nation’s capital, as darkness spread from governor’s residences to state capitol buildings, across downtown skylines and throughout the suburban landscape. The American landmarks going dark included Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls, the Broadway Theater District and the Las Vegas Strip.

“Earth Hour is about Americans and people throughout the world standing up and saying ‘climate change is real and we need to do something about it now’,” WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts said in a statement. “From coast-to-coast, Americans provided strong affirmation that they are ready for the U.S. to be a leader in the green revolution.”

WWF said governors and state legislators from 33 states, more than five times the number last year, officially endorsed Earth Hour and turned off lights at their residences and/or state capitol buildings. Those states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Earth Hour activities were celebrated in other states as well. In Minnesota, the decorative lighting on the Duluth Aerial Bridge went dark, while the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall turned off their marquee lighting in Alaska. The University of Virginia represented the commonwealth, while in the Lone Star State a number of cities including Austin, Dallas and Houston passed resolutions and turned off the lights that make up their skylines.

Other notable landmarks throughout the country that participated in this year’s event include:

  • The Smithsonian Castle in Washington D.C.
  • The Space Needle and Pikes Place Market sign in Seattle
  • The Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, United Nations, Broadway Theatre marquees in NYC
  • The Pylons at L.A. International Airport, Santa Monica Pier and Queen Mary Hotel in Los Angeles
  • The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
  • Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis
  • Montezuma Castle in Arizona
  • The Wrangler in Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Milwaukee Public Market in Wisconsin
  • The National Aquarium in Baltimore
  • Sears/Willis Tower in Chicago

The WWF’s ultimate hope is that  cities and landmarks will apply the core principal of turning off the lights to their every day routine. In Chicago, the Building Owners and Management Association developed lighting guidelines to reduce light pollution, and reduce the carbon footprint of downtown buildings.  Mount Rushmore in South Dakota will now start powering down each night around 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.

Here are photos from some of the 2010 locations:

Children from Hong Kong show their support for Earth Hour 2010 by making lanterns and holding up their fingers to make "V for Victory" signs. (Photo: © WWF Hong Kong)

Children from Hong Kong show their support for Earth Hour 2010 by making lanterns and holding up their fingers to make "V for Victory" signs. (Photo: © WWF Hong Kong)


Mar 192010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Ready to spend a little time in the dark to show that you aren’t in the dark about climate change? Earth Hour 2010 is just around the corner.

Image: myearthhour.org

Image: myearthhour.org

The event – organized by the World Wildlife Fund and scheduled for 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 27 – once again will feature millions of Americans turning out their lights for one hour in support of action on climate change. In 2009, an estimated 80 million people in the U.S. and nearly a billion around the world participated on some level, resulting in the lights going dim at such iconic venues as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, New York’s Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and the Great Pyramids of Gaza.

Earth Hour started in 2007, in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned off their lights. A year later, more than 50 million people across 35 countries answered the call. Last year, over 4,000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off.

Other famous American sites expected to go without all non-essential lighting this year: Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, Sea World in Orlando, the strip in Las Vegas, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington D.C.’s National Cathedral, California’s Santa Monica Pier and the Space Needle in Seattle.

Outside the U.S., the WWF said it expects thousands of cities in more than 105 countries to take part. The list includes Athens, Bangkok, Cape Town, Delhi, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Manila, Moscow, Rome, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tel Aviv and Toronto.


Feb 202010
 

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

OK, I admit, I didn’t want to wade into this slush.

I was aware, as most of you no doubt are, that the IPCC (that’s the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has been caught in a few mistakes recently. And I was concerned, because we reporters rely on the IPCC’s reports — especially that last one from 2007. The one that many scientists believe underestimates what will happen with climate change.  We rely on it because it’s based on the efforts of hundreds of peer-reviewed reports by scientists around the world and it’s widely considered to be the best forecast we have of what climate change might bring.

Of course, I had trouble hearing myself think in the din of cheers from climate skeptics, who were already reveling in record snows in the U.S. (The naysayers conveniently ignore that extreme weather patterns are predicted by global-warming models.) They shout from the stands, as though this were a junior high wrestling match instead of a serious discussion of what’s true or not, or reasonable to believe, about the future of the planet.

I mean, a little gravitas would have been nice.

We did get a serious response from chief climate skeptic U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, (around the same time his family was building an igloo to taunt Al Gore).

Inhofe on the Senate floor: “The ramifications of the IPCC [problems] spread far and wide, most notably to the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases from mobile sources endanger public health and welfare.  EPA’s finding rests in large measure on the IPCC’s conclusions-and EPA has accepted them wholesale, without an independent assessment.”

His criticism seems fair, actually. If the EPA were relying just on the IPCC for its conclusions that greenhouse gases are dangerous, then we’ve got a problem.

Except it isn’t. The agency does turn frequently to the IPCC report, because it’s the big compendium on the topic, composed by a worldwide network of top scientists, who aren’t all of one mind, who are fallible, yes, but have been working for decades to put various pieces together. The IPCC experts are studying everything from the bleaching coral in the acidifying Pacific to the speed of glaciers breaking off in Greenland.

The EPA’s State of the Knowledge report to the public indeed leans heavily on IPCC findings. But its discussion of the Health and Environmental Effects of Climate Change points to our own U.S. agencies that monitor the weather and the nation’s natural resources. Much of this info is gathered together by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. (Which is worth checking out if you want to know more. You’ll be reassured that scientists and policymakers are trying to tease out what’s true, what’s likely and what’s less likely to transpire with climate change.)

As my teenagers would say, the EPA staff are not idiots, they know they need multiple sources.

But back to the IPCC. Without rehashing everything that’s gone on, it is clear that mistakes have been made.

Here’s a look at one of them: In its 2007 report the IPCC says the Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2035. The IPCC drew that information from a World Wildlife Fund report, which had relied on another report — that had inaccurately cited yet another report, which was in hieroglyphics.

I’m kidding about the hieroglyphics. The reports don’t go back quite that far.

The bottom line: You could barely follow the chain of custody here, let alone find the solid science calculating that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035. It was, in the end, speculation. And more than a few someones were lazy in vetting this information at WWF and the IPCC. (Read the WWF’s explanation for more detail.)

So what is the truth? According to one peer-reviewed report, the  Himalayan glaciers are losing mass, which could be very bad for the half billion people who depend on them for water.

And this is most likely (some would say almost certainly) caused by climate change, and also possibly soot from little cooking stoves used in that part of the world.

The climate change, by the way, is most likely caused by human-created carbon emissions.

At what point does this science become fact? When the weight of the science shows — even despite some missteps, a few jealous colleagues withholding evidence, occasional hyperbole and a few related bugs and warts — that climate change is happening.

I was convinced awhile back. I think the IPCC’s failings are worrisome. But I understand that science is a process — steered by humans. At some point, we need to jump, and run with the solutions. While we can.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network


Jan 202010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Bengal Tiger (Photo: Martin Harvey | WWF-Canon)

Bengal Tiger (Photo: Martin Harvey | WWF-Canon)

One of the world’s largest tiger populations could disappear by the end of this century, according to a new study published in the journal Climatic Change. The World Wildlife Fund-led study says rising sea levels caused by climate change will destroy the tigers’ habitat along the coast of Bangladesh in an area known as the Sundarbans.

Tigers are among the world’s most threatened species — only an estimated 3,200 remaining in the wild. WWF officials said the threats facing Bengal tigers and other iconic species around the world highlight the need for urgent international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we don’t take steps to address the impacts of climate change on the Sundarbans, the only way its tigers will survive this century is with scuba gear,” Colby Loucks, WWF’s deputy director of conservation science and lead author of the study, said in a statement . “Tigers are a highly adaptable species, thriving from the snowy forests of Russia to the tropical forests of Indonesia. The projected sea level rise in the Sundarbans will likely outpace the tiger’s ability to adapt.”

According to the study, “Sea Level Rise and Tigers: Predicted Impacts to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Mangroves,” an expected sea level rise of 11 inches above 2000 levels may cause the remaining tiger habitat in the Sundarbans to decline by 96 percent, pushing the total population to fewer than 20 breeding tigers. Unless immediate action is taken, the Sundarbans, its wildlife and the natural resources that sustain millions of people may disappear within 50 to 90 years, the study said.

“The mangrove forest of the Bengal tiger now joins the sea-ice of the polar bear as one of the habitats most immediately threatened as global temperatures rise during the course of this century,” said Keya Chatterjee, acting director of WWF’s climate change program. “To avert an ecological catastrophe on a much larger scale, we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change we fail to avoid. In 2010, the Chinese Year of the Tiger, there is no better time for the US to pass domestic climate legislation and to reach an effective international agreement.”

The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by India and Bangladesh at the mouth of the Ganges River, is the world’s largest single block of mangrove forest. Mangroves are found at the inter-tidal region between land and sea, and not only serve as breeding grounds for fish but help protect coastal regions from natural disasters such as cyclones, storm surges and wind damage.

Providing the habitat for between 250 and 400 tigers, the Sundarbans also is home to more than 50 reptile species, 120 commercial fish species, 300 bird species and 45 mammal species. While their exact numbers are unclear, WWF says the tigers living in the Sundarbans of India and Bangladesh may represent as many as 10 percent of all the remaining wild tigers on Earth.

Using the rates of sea level rise projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fourth Assessment Report from 2007, the new study’s authors said an 11-inch sea level rise may be realized around 2070, at which point tigers will be unlikely to survive in the Sundarbans. However, recent research suggests that the seas may rise even more swiftly than what was predicted in the 2007 IPCC assessment.

In addition to climate change, the Sundarbans tigers, like other tiger populations around the world already face tremendous threats from poaching and habitat loss. Tiger ranges have decreased by 40 percent over the past decade, and tigers today occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Scientists fear that accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching could push some tiger populations to the same fate as their now-extinct Javan and Balinese relatives in other parts of Asia.

Tigers are poached for their highly prized skins and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The 2010 Year of the Tiger will mark an important year for conservation efforts to save wild tigers.

Recommendations in the new study include:

  • Locally, governments and natural resource managers should take immediate steps to conserve and expand mangroves while preventing poaching and retaliatory killing of tigers.
  • Regionally, neighboring countries should increase sediment delivery and freshwater flows to the coastal region to support agriculture and replenishment of the land
  • Globally, governments should take stronger action to limit greenhouse gas emissions

Related video:

Year of the Tiger video from WWF


Jan 192010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

World Wildlife Fund announced today that Earth Hour 2010 will take place on Saturday, March 27, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with many of the nation’s most iconic landmarks dimming their lights for one hour in what is expected to be the largest call for action on climate change in history.

WWF said the initial list of U.S. landmarks taking part in the event includes Mount Rushmore, Empire State Building, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, Harrah’s Caesar Palace and the MGM Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. New Earth Hour participants in 2010 will include Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis. Other local landmarks taking part include Atlanta’s Bank of America building and the Pike Place Market sign in Seattle.

This year’s event follows a U.S. government report from June 2009 that found that every region of the nation is experiencing significant, adverse impacts from climate change including droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires. A study released in November 2009 by WWF and the insurance company Allianz SE warned that by mid-century, rising global sea levels caused by climate change could increase risks to more than $7 trillion in buildings, transportation infrastructure, and other assets in major U.S. coastal cities, including Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

Organizations that have also pledged their support for Earth Hour include Goddard Systems, Inc., HandsOn Network, American Federation of Teachers, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Park Service’s WebRangers, American Bird Conservancy, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, Focus the Nation, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Student Councils, National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Science Teachers Association, National Association of Neighborhoods, Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington and Reverb, a non-profit organization that greens concert tours.